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I have Windows XP Professional OEM key on the sticker on the computer, but I don't have a OEM media to perform reinstall. I could obtain (it doesn't matter how) an installation ISO images from MSDN site, but as I understand these are only images for Retail and Volume Licencing versions. So, can I use Retail (or VL) media to perform install and activate with OEM licence key?

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It's possible to edit a line in a file on the iso with a program like POWERISO to have it seen as an OEM. I don't remember the specific file or line to change, though. –  Rob Oct 27 '11 at 17:45
    
OEM keys will only work on OEM installation. You can use a Dell XP install CD and then change the key to the one that is on the sticker once you are at the desktop if it is not a Dell, I do this all the time for all brands of PC's. Dell XP iso images can be found if you know where to look, or borrow a Dell disc from a friend, relative or co-worker. –  Moab Oct 27 '11 at 20:38
    
@Moab - I hope that this is true. It seems to be the case for me too. I can only hope that, after using a XP install CD for rebuilding my own PC and then rebuilding friends' PCs (with their valid genuine COA sticker), that the same CD will work if I have to rebuild my own PC again. In other words, the installation does not lock to certain hardware. My impression that this should all be OK for XP. But for Windows 7 the lock-to-hardware (i.e. motherboard) of OEM Windows 7 is much stricter, if impossible to circumvent. –  therobyouknow Nov 15 '11 at 13:44

2 Answers 2

From my understanding,

OEM license only allows the copy to be activated and used on one, single, specific set of hardware it was sold for (and usually with). It can be reinstalled and reacticated as often as you like, but only on that machine. There is no way to move an OEM license to a different machine than the one for which it was sold.

A retail license can be moved from machine to machine, as long as it’s only ever on one machine at a time.

You should be able to install it, with maybe some difficulties.

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You will need the standardized OEM install CD. It will work with all OEM keys. It does required a phone call to activate the install however. The CD has the normal holograms but also has the text "For distribution with a new PC only. The Certificate of Authenticity label should be attached to your PC. For product support, contact the manufacturer of your PC." on it.

I don't think it's available from MSDN so you have to ask friends or others at work if they have such a CD. Checking for the text makes it easy to tell a retail Windows XP disc from the standardized OEM one.

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